The Ellis County and District Attorney Office filed charges on June 8 against Tyron Davis in connection with a possible violations of the Texas Election Code.
Davis was the Democratic candidate for the Ellis County Constable Precinct 3 seat when the incident occurred. He won the seat in the May 24 primary run-off election against incumbent Jimmie Ray.
According to documents filed with County Court at Law Two, Davis is facing three charges of failure to comply with signing voting application assistant. The document states that on or about April 25 Davis knowingly fail to affix his signature, his own name in printed form and/or his residence address to an application ballot by mail for six individuals, in the present of the applicants, after he assisted the applicant by filling the name, residence address, mailing address and/or date of birth of the applicants on the application for ballot by mail.
According to the affidavit for probable cause, county elections administrator Jana Onyon contacted chief investigator Jeff Ward of the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office on April 28. Onyon reported that on April 27, two men wearing some type of official seals on their shirts had contacted her at her office and requested to see Davis’s campaign finance reports.
“Jana Onyon went on to report that on the same day when the staff got ready to process the mail for the day, they came across 18 mail ballot applications and 15 voter registration applications all having similarities,” Ward stated in the affidavit. “Jana Onyon reported that the problem with the applications is that all 18 mail ballot applications were blank in the box 11a section, which is where an assistant/witness must sign if they helped the voter fill out the application.”
The affidavit stated Onyon reported this violation of Election Code Section 84.003, which is a Class A misdemeanor if the assistant did not fill out the section. Ward obtained verbal consent from Onyon and took the forms as evidence.
On April 28, the County and District Attorney’s Office received a phone call from Onyon advising that clerk Eloisa Rios had made a report about giving Davis forms, according to the affidavit.
“Eloisa Rios reported that Tyron Davis had come into the elections office and received voter registration application on several occasions. Eloisa Rios made a report that she advised Tyron Davis personally that he was (to) complete the proper sections regarding witnessing/assisting voter applicants in completing this form to avoid is being a violation of the law,” the affidavit stated.
Further investigation by Ward found that 15 of the 18 applications were made at Renfro Healthcare Center on Main Street. Two other applications were for residents living on north Aikin Street. Ward and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Mike Turner contacted the administrator of the Renfro Kendra King.
“Investigator Tuner and I interviewed Kendra King and learned that a person described as an African American male, approximately six foot (tall) came to the center and spoke with her regarding the voter application,” Ward stated in the affidavit. “I asked Ms. King if she could recognize the man if I showed a picture of the person. Ms. King stated yes I just don’t remember the name. I showed Ms. King a picture of Tyron Davis and Ms. King instantly recognized the person as Tyron Davis.”
Interviews with applicants at Renfro were conducted on April 29, according to the affidavit. The people making application for a mail-in ballot confirmed they had assistance and most identified Davis as the person who assisted them. Several people interview did not know what they were signing, the affidavit stated. The residents on Aikin Street and the resident on Ross Street reported the same. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Jackie Miller Jr. issued a warrant.
Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said his office is specifically authorized to conduct investigations into violations of the election code.
“Allegations about criminal conduct were brought to our attention and we promptly investigated the matter. We thought that it was of the up most importance given the fact that this is an individual that is on a ballot in less than a month’s time,” Wilson said in a previous article. “We thought that we needed to respond quickly and that is what we have done.”
Wilson said this offense is a class A misdemeanor and can bring up to a year in jail with a $4,000 fine.
In a previously statement released by Davis’s attorney Theresa Peel, she stated her client thought he was performing a community service when he went to Renfro Healthcare Center to register voters.
According to Peel, a former Renfro employee contacted Davis, suggesting that several residents were unable to vote in the election because they were not registered to vote, asking for Davis’ help. Renfro provided all of the names, dates of birth, and identification numbers to Davis and asked Davis to visit the residents and get the resident signatures, Peel’s release stated.
“Davis provided voter registration applications and assisted the Renfro residents in completing the applications. The voter registration form is only used to register to vote. Basic information is provided: name, address, date of birth, gender, identification number, and signature of applicant,” Peel’s release stated. “The applications have no place for anyone other than the applicant to sign. Additionally, some of the residents requested mail-in ballot applications, which Davis provided. It was on the mail-in application that Davis overlooked the fine print indicating he needed to complete the witness section. At no point during the visit with the residents were any ballots present. Davis did not mark any ballots for any residents, nor did he offer any incentives to vote for any particular candidates.”
In Peel’s statement Davis said he was only looking to help residents.
“I am thankful that the staff at the elections office is diligent in ensuring the election is conducted in a fair and honest manner,” Davis stated in Peel’s release. “However, I had no intention of committing any voter fraud or committing any other disservice to our community. My only intent was to provide a service to residents of the nursing home who were unable to register to vote without assistance and I apologize if I did not properly complete the mail-in application forms.”
Follow Andrew on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at email@example.com or 469-517-1451.